Thursday, February 14, 2008

Saudis to execute woman for witchcraft

Human Rights Watch is appealing to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to stop the execution of a woman accused of witchcraft and performing supernatural acts. Witchcraft is considered an offense against Islam in the conservative kingdom.

Fawza Falih confessed to practicing witchcraft after being beaten by the Saudi religious police. She retracted her confession in court saying it was extracted under duress. She also said that as an illiterate woman she did not understand the documents she was forced to fingerprint. However, witnesses testified that she had bewitched them including one man who was suddenly impotent. According to another witness, a divorced woman reportedly returned to her ex-husband during the month predicted by the witch said to have cast the spell. For this she has been sentenced to death.

In November, Egyptian pharmacist Mustapha Ibrahim, who worked in the northern city of Arar, was beheaded by the sword for "sorcery" under Saudi Arabia's strict Islamic laws for allegedly trying to separate a married couple.

These are the same fine folks who within the past few months:

According to Peter Tatchell, a human rights activist, "The British and US governments support the despotic, corrupt Saudi regime. As well as flogging and executing gay people, the Saudi leaders are guilty of detention without trial, torture and the public beheading women who have sex outside of marriage. Migrant workers are de facto slaves. The media is heavily censored. Trade unions, political parties and non-Muslim religions are banned. The country is a theocratic police state."

In their letter to the king, Human Rights Watch urged the sentence on the woman be lifted and authorities responsible for her mistreatment and the violation of her rights be investigated and prosecuted.

1 comment:

Bill Garnett said...

Thank you for writing this story. And the examples you cite are truly horrendous.

I do wish that there would be a bit more balance though in reports on Saudi Arabia. I lived in a middle class Saudi neighborhood in Riyadh from 1990 to 1996 - and there is much to say about the Saudis that is positive.

These people have come from tribal desert people to the modern technological world in two generations, due to the discovery of oil 1938. These people close every store, every barbershop, ever gas station five times a day, seven days a week to go to prayer. They have wonderful family values with extended families meeting together almost every night. Despite the western perception, women are treated with respect and generally don’t see themselves as being oppressed. My best friend was a Saudi whose father had two wives. I traveled extensively all over the country and much of the Middle East. These are among the most hospitable people in the world,

There’s not an old age home in the country as families take care of their own. Marriages, though still generally somewhat arranged, are by all accounts rather happy, as mothers have a sense of what would be a good match for their sons. And crime is almost non-existent. I felt completely safe anywhere in the country 24/7.

One might try and stand above this and try and neutrally view how Saudis see America – with the projection of crime, the blatant worshipping of sexuality, and the obsessive materialism and individual selfishness.

I don’t condone the examples you cited – I only wish that enlightened readers would view your posting in context.